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Creating an eBook from a Word document

February 3, 2012

These notes are to remind me what I did to create an eBook from a Word document in case I have to create more. They are not step-by-step instructions — they are just my notes from my first foray into creating eBooks.

Some background: I have an Android phone, so was only able to test on that platform.

Process

  1. Format the Word document so that it uses Heading styles for each section. Minimal formatting elsewhere.
  2. Save the Word doc as filtered HTML.
  3. Optional: Clean up the resulting HTML using Word Cleaner (use the Clean up existing Word HTML files conversion option; however, this can strip the heading information from the document and re-applying that and other styles may not be worth the effort).
  4. Use Sigil to create the initial ePub book from the filtered HTML output from Word.
  5. Use Sigil to clean up the output, add a table of contents, etc.
  6. Use Calibre to create ePub and other eBook formats, add a cover page and picture, if necessary.
  7. Test the resulting output in the Calibre reader.
  8. Republish the ePub in Calibre and/or republish to other formats too (e.g. MOBI for Kindle).
  9. Test on various devices/readers.

If you’re using an Android phone, you can test the ePub and MOBI formats in the Aldiko and Kindle apps. However, for Kindle on Android you may have to plug the phone into your computer as a hard drive and transfer the MOBI document to the Kindle folder. I found that the Kindle app for Android wouldn’t open a MOBI file transferred via Bluetooth or DropBox, but would open it if I transferred it. The ePub version worked straight away in Aldiko.

Potential issues with Word documents when converted to MOBI and viewed on Kindle

Some of these potential issues could be corrected with adjustments to the CSS; however, for these initial tests, I didn’t do that as I wanted to see how easily it was to create eBooks ‘out of the box’.

  • Bulletted lists: May not display correctly. The bullet is preserved, but the indentation is a little out-of-whack.
  • Tables: The data displays, but cell background colors display as little colored markers, instead of the color filling the cell background. The test table I used had 5 columns — any more and it would struggle to display them all. Heading row repeat is not preserved so as you scroll pages for a long table, there are no headings at the top of the page to tell you what data you’re looking at.
  • Justification: The text is fully justified, even though the Word document was left justified.
  • Figures: Display as smallish thumbnail size images and they can’t be resized.
  • Fonts: The font displayed is a serif font, even though the Word document used Calibri (sans serif) for the base font and Cambria (serif) for the headings. Heading and caption colors and sizes preserved. Paragraph indent (none) preserved and paragraph leading preserved too.

Potential issues with Word documents when converted to ePub and viewed on Aldiko

Some of these potential issues could be corrected with adjustments to the CSS; however, for these initial tests, I didn’t do that as I wanted to see how easily it was to create eBooks ‘out of the box’.

  • Heading fonts: Not preserved. These were Cambria, blue in the original Word document, but became black (unknown serif font) in the ePub version.
  • Caption fonts for figures and tables: Became normal text. Some ended up with a hyperlink (as did the main Heading 1) and I have no idea why.
  • Figures: Display as smallish thumbnail size images and they can’t be resized.
  • Justification: The text is fully justified, even though the Word document was left justified.
  • Paragraphs: First lines were indented slightly, even though they weren’t in the original Word document. Paragraph leading not preserved.
  • Tables: Go off the ‘page’. Reducing the displayed text size helped, but you wouldn’t want to have extensive tables in your original document. No colors displayed for heading rows, banded rows, borders etc — all white background and black borders.

Tools I used

See also:

[Links last checked January 2012]

One comment

  1. […] CyberText Newsletter The official newsletter/blog of CyberText Consulting – technical communication specialists « Word: Styles pane completely blank More about creating eBooks from Word documents August 27, 2012 At the end of June I spent a few hours investigating what cheap/free new tools/processes were on the market for converting complex Word documents into eBooks for reading on tablets, smartphones etc. My last foray into this area was back in February 2012. […]



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